Behind the Process / ‘Art is Error’
‘My writing is finally flowing. Be down a bit later.’
That’s the text message I sent my husband earlier this evening while he was downstairs (waiting for me to watch a movie with him) and I was upstairs squirrelled away in my walk-in wardrobe (aka my new, secret writing room).
Earlier today, I had eight uninterrupted hours to write. Most writers would agree, I’m sure, how glorious that sounds.
The plan was to write up four individual blog posts and to finish the website text before it could all go live. Two hours into it, I realised that my scheduling was rather unrealistic. So I downgraded my target: four blog posts by the time the boys return home from school and all the website text by the time I went to bed.
Six hours later, I had finished two blog posts and nothing more.
Nothing flowed for me today. Nothing. Every word felt painful.
I wrote 884 words in total, and it took me the entire eight hours.
Tonight, I’ve been at my desk for less than two hours, and I’ve written almost the same number of words.
Tonight, I have flow.
Earlier today, I had a long list of things to write—many of them daunting in one way or another. Tonight, I have given myself one thing to focus on.
Earlier today, I was making coffee, replying to messages, checking Facebook, watching YouTube videos (let’s be honest), making lunch, and trying to write on my son’s bed because his bedroom gets all the morning sun. Tonight, I am sitting in the dark in my secret writing room, writing in my Writeroom app, and not doing much else.
Earlier today, I was stressed about the boys returning home from school at four o’clock. Tonight, there is no set deadline as such—we can skip the movie if we absolutely have to, and I can always opt for less sleep.
I share all this to try and lift the curtain on artmaking and creative pursuits in general. Even though the work and process of others can seem shiny and enviable at times, the reality is there’s often a decent dose of fear, frustration, or disappointment behind the veil.
Artmaking, in all its different forms, is hard, gruelling work.
Despite the fact that I have been writing for over ten years, I still struggle with my process, as evidenced by today. And I still make mistakes—all the time.
None of it is ever perfect.
But, like I said to our boys over dinner tonight, ‘If you give up, there’s no possibility of producing work that’s satisfactory. If you persevere, you might just end up with something you’re happy with.’